A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
Contact us at democracyunderfire@gmail.com

Sunday, May 13, 2012

How can members represent their constituents?

We here, along with a number of other concerned Canadians have been pointing out the escalating decline of our democratic institutions, our access to accurate and timely information, the increasingly partisan rhetoric and actions that signals that Canadian Democracy is in real trouble for some time now.
Whilst no party, federal or provincial, except perhaps the GPC, is totally without fault on this file it is the Harper Regime who have far and away exceeded all others in centralizing power and minimizing debate and public input whilst unilaterally forcing through legislation that is flawed at best and totally wrong socially, environmentally and fiscally at worst. The Omnibus Budget Bill which is now reaping outrage from Canadians from coast to coast is but the latest of a long line of actions which show a total disregard for the normal democratic process in parliament. We can agree or disagree on the content of this and other such previously tabled bills but the methods used to get them implemented is clearly anti Canadian, anti Democratic and the actions of an Oligarchy not an 'Open and Accountable' government.

Rather than reiterate what has been said so many times by so many Canadians regarding both the current current disdain of parliamentary process and the many previous actions which show the Harper regimes true colors I will simply post a few extracts from recent posts by fellow bloggers and media observers. Do go read them and check out their previous posts also, we must continue to educate those who remain uncaring or ignorant of the threat to our hard won rights, freedoms and governance systems.

The Harper government is intent on passing its 421 page Budget Implementation Bill in seven days. If Stephen Harper were the Leader of the Opposition, he would be up in arms. In fact, as Leader of the Opposition, he was. "In the interest of democracy," he fumed, I ask how can members represent their constituents on these various areas when they are forced to vote on a block of such legislation?”
But that was then. This is now. And now Harper knows that his program runs so deeply against Canada's core values that he must accomplish his mission by stealth. Tom Walkom outlines the significant details in the omnibus budget act:

But the increasing use of these omnibills extends Parliament’s powerlessness in all directions: it has become, if you will, omnimpotent — a ceremonial body, little more. What is worse, it cannot even seem to rouse itself to its own defence.
Once upon a time such insults could be relied upon to produce unruly scenes in the House, obstruction of government business and whatnot. The packaging of several pieces of legislation into one omnibus energy bill in 1982 provoked the opposition to refuse to enter the House to vote. The division bells rang for nearly three weeks until the government agreed to split the bill. The insertion of a single change to environmental legislation in the 2005 budget bill, a note from the Green Party reminds us, so enraged the then leader of the Opposition, Stephen Harper, that he threatened to bring down the government.
But today’s Parliament is so accustomed to these indignities that it barely registers. It has lost not only the power to resist, it seems, but the will.
Also from Andrew
While the 2012 budget implementation bill is hardly the first in this tradition, the scale and scope is on a level not previously seen, or tolerated.
Not only does this make a mockery of the confidence convention, shielding bills that would otherwise be defeatable within a money bill, which is not: It makes it impossible to know what Parliament really intended by any of it. We’ve no idea whether MPs supported or opposed any particular bill in the bunch, only that they voted for the legislation that contained them. There is no common thread that runs between them, no overarching principle; they represent not a single act of policy, but a sort of compulsory buffet.........
Moreover, it utterly eviscerates the committee process, until now regarded as one of the last useful roles left to MPs. How can one committee, in this case Finance, properly examine all of these diverse measures, with all of the many areas of expertise they require, especially in the time allotted to them?

The only way we can maintain good governance is to soundly reject the many corrupt practices of the Harper government: but how do we do that with three years left on their majority rule? Time and again they have been exposed and have gotten away with it. Even when Elections Canada found them guilty of In & Out, they paid no political price. Each time they get away with something, they are emboldened to go further and be more unscrupulous. Each time Harper shrugs off one of these scandals, his supporters get the message that this is the way they should operate.

Kirby Cairo on his blog
Our government can prorogue parliament whenever it wants with no consequence, it can effectively shut down parliamentary debate on any issue, it can use its self-appointed speaker to avoid retribution for blatant violations of House rules,  it can use fraud to win elections while underfunding and under-informing the very body that is supposed to investigate such malfeasance, it can gut regulations to the point that we become little more than a mechanism for extracting resources and sending them to other tyrannical nations, and it can do all of these things while blithely bragging about its democratic principles.

There is no doubt that democracy is in trouble, here and abroad. And the most desperate trouble is to be found in the state of denial of our so-called leaders.

Lorne at Politics and its Discontents
During the past year I have written many posts on the sad spectacle of a Canadian democracy in decline, citizen cynicism and apathy rather than vigorous engagement becoming the default position of more and more Canadians. I have also offered the opinion that this is in large part the result of practices purposely pursued by our political 'masters', most egregiously by the Harper regime, so as to leave the field pretty much clear for the 'true-believers' to exert a disproportionate influence on election results when they turn out and the rest of us tune out.

The Sixth Estate for detailed analysis.
So much heavy lifting has been done here that I will not attempt to select a clip, if you want facts and lists on everything from robocon reports to patronage lists to who is lobbying government this is the place to go.

Sask Boy has much more.
He has been keeping up on the election phone call scam and the failure of Elections Canada to do much about it until the media and the blogging community brought it all into the public eye. If you want to see who is, or was, saying what about this ongoing investigation check out his many posts on the subject.

Jim Travers may be gone but his work lives on.
For those that may wish to look back to see how long this attack upon democracy has been going on there is no better introduction than Mr Travers 'Shamocracy' series which are linked to in a previous post.

The above is but a small selection and I thank them all for keeping such information in the public eye. You may want to check out my 'Malfeasance' pages linked at the top of the page, they are not comprehensive, the list would be way to large and I am having a hard time keeping up!. I for one am getting extremely tired and dispirited with all the things going on that we the voters seem to have no control over, accurate and up to date information is the only way to fight this blight. We all know we wont get much of that coming out the Harper Regime unless it is liberally sprinkled with Bull Shit!

There are now rumors that the Omnibus Budget Bill may be split into separate pieces of legislation. “NDP House leader Nathan Cullen says his Conservative counterpart, Peter Van Loan, is considering a New Democrat proposal to split the 400-plus-page budget implementation bill into five separate pieces of legislation.”.
But then again perhaps not!
Keep up the pressure folks, perhaps we CAN have some impact! Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers

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